Thursday, July 05, 2007
Rafting on the Truckee River near Tahoe
While the new Truckee River Whitewater Park in downtown Reno has garnered considerable attention in the past year, there’s another spot on the Truckee that long has been popular for a more leisurely brand of river rafting.
The stretch of the Truckee River between Tahoe City and River Ranch has offered quality, river floating for many years. In fact, two companies, Truckee River Rafting/Mountain Air Sports and Truckee River Raft Company, lease all the stuff you need for a trip on the river.
Both operate from Tahoe City and offer self-guided floating excursions that include a large, commercial raft, paddles, life jackets and a shuttle ride back to the launch point.
That doesn’t mean, however, that floaters are required to rent from the two companies. Anyone with a flotation device (inflatable mattresses, pool furniture, inner-tubes, etc) can jump into the river (go downriver from the launching points of the two commercial companies) and begin the three-hour, five-mile journey.
Of course, if you’re doing it on your own, make sure you’ve made arrangements to get back to your vehicle when the ride is over. Most folks bring two cars; one to reach the launch point and another to leave where they exit the river.
And anyone deciding to take the ride should make sure they’ve brought water (or other liquid refreshments), sunscreen and perhaps some kind of water shoes or sandals.
As for the actual rafting ride, this portion of the Truckee is amazingly peaceful, lovely to view and leisurely. While there are a handful of good rapids along the way, the trip is generally pretty tame by most river rafting standards.
Departing from Tahoe City, just below the Lake Tahoe spillway, the river floats past something that locals call “bubblegum bridge” and begins a meandering course through the tall pines. At several spots along the way, rafters frequently pull to the side to do a little swimming or splashing around in the pools that have formed.
Along the way, the river intersects beautiful meadows filled with colorful wildflowers. Laying on the raft, enjoying the bright sun overhead, the rich, blue sky, the gentle rocking of the water, sometimes it’s hard not to want to take a nap.
Be aware, however, that the river is popular, particularly on weekends, so much of the time your boat is likely to be surrounded by other floaters, some of whom will be challenging each other (and you) to a water fight. Some of these combatants pack water pistols.
Additionally, the river rushes around lots of large rocks and boulders so be prepared to use your paddle to maneuver the raft around these obstacles.
The latter part of the trip encounters several rapids that are the highlight of the float. It’s common to suddenly find your raft heading straight into a large boulder and then bouncing backward or sideways (so hang on tight). This stretch is also where some have their rafts become stuck (or high-centered) on a rock and struggle to get free.
A bit farther and around a curve is River Ranch, a restaurant and resort on Alpine Meadows Road, which serves as the exit point. Here, rafters frequently enjoy lunch or refreshments before returning to their cars.
For reservations (recommended for weekends and holidays) or more information on using the services of one of the commercial rafting businesses check out: Truckee River Rafting/Mountain Air Sports, 888-584-RAFT or www.truckeeriverrafting.com or Truckee River Raft Company, 530-583-0123, www.truckeeriverraft.com.